iPad 2: For iPad fans, a blessing. For PC makers, a downer.

iPad 2 is slated to hit shelves later this month. How will the iPad 2 affect other sectors of the technology market, such as the PC?

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    iPad 2 is good news for Apple fanatics. And iPad 2 is bad news for PC makers. Here, an iPad 2 is shown at an event in San Francisco this week.
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The iPad 2 – the slimmed-down, speedy successor to the original iPad – is likely to be very good for Apple, which unloaded enough iPad units last year to drive overall tablet sales through the roof. Conversely, the iPad 2 is likely to be very bad for makers of increasingly antiquated PC laptops and desktops. (Remember those? We do. In fact, we're writing on one right now.)

According to the research firm Gartner, the strong interest in tablet computers – not to mention the sheer number of manufacturers dipping their toes in the tablet market – will likely stop many consumers from shelling out for a traditional machine. "We expect growing consumer enthusiasm for mobile PC alternatives, such as the iPad and other media tablets, to dramatically slow home mobile PC sales," Gartner's George Shiffler told CNN today.

Gartner predicted that worldwide PC shipments would reach 387.8 million units this year – an increase of more than 10 percent over 2010. But that 10 percent growth is far less than the 15.9 percent growth originally forecasted by Gartner. So has the PC begun a slow trek towards obsolesce? Not exactly. PCs can still do a lot of things that the current line of tablets can't – PCs, for instance, are generally faster and hold more memory than tablets.

But Gartner reps seemed to indicate that eventually, tablets would leak further into sectors currently dominated by traditional machines. "[E]ven in the professional market, media tablets are being considered as PC substitutes, likely at least delaying some PC replacements," Raphael Vasquez, senior research analyst at Gartner, explained to the AFP.

For more on this, check out our previous report on tablet sales. And if you haven't done so already, sign up for the free Innovation newsletter, which is emailed out every Wednesday morning.

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